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International Solidarity Movement Update 08 July

International Solidarity Movement Update 08 July 2005

1. Demonstration against a checkpoint near the village of Nazlat Issa
2. Another child shot in Balata
3. Update on Children Arrested at Peaceful Wall Demonstration in Beit Suriq
4. Update on Yonatan Pollack
5. He simply had a mom and dad By Yossi Sarid
6. When You Remember – A poem By Bob Green
7. Demonstration in Bil'in

1. Demonstration against a checkpoint near the village of Nazlat Issa

For pictures from the action see

At noon on July 7 2005 around 80 Palestinians from the village of Nazlat Issa in the West Bank, accompanied by international activists, carried out a demonstration against a checkpoint near their village.

Nazlat Issa is divided by the Annexation Wall, which separates a few houses from the rest of the village. The residents of these houses have to pass through a checkpoint in order to get to work, to school, or to visit friends and relatives living in the neighboring Palestinian city of Baqa Gharbiya inside Israel. The checkpoint is always manned by soldiers or border police.

We marched to a house in the village which has been occupied by the Israeli army, with soldiers stationed on the roof. On the way we saw the site where four of the houses had been demolished to make way for the construction of the Wall. We then walked towards the checkpoint in the village.

There was a group of Israeli soldiers with four jeeps waiting for us at the checkpoint. We approached to within about 50m of the checkpoint, chanting, singing, and dancing.

The soldiers declared the village a closed military zone. Most of the soldiers did not appear to have tear gas or other crowd control methods.

After about an hour the internationals and most of the Palestinians walked back to the village but some young men stayed behind and threw stones toward the soldiers. The soldiers came into the village and arrested two Palestinian boys, aged 15 and 18.

The internationals spoke to villagers and got the names and ID numbers of the arrested boys and passed this information on to Hamoked, an Israeli human rights organization which will follow the case and pass any information they get on to the family. The internationals went with the families of the arrested boys to talk to the soldiers at the checkpoint to try to get the boys released.

The younger boy was released about one hour after his arrest but the other boy was taken to an Isralei jail inside a nearby illegal Israeli settlement. As we were preparing to leave the checkpoint the soldiers called our taxi driver over and asked him if he works with us (with the ISM).



2. Another child shot in Balata

ISM Nablus

2am, 7th July 2005

Israeli armed vehicles arrived at the camp late in the evening. Despite the presence of two large groups of civilians, including two internationals, the soldiers began firing live rounds directly into the camp. We had not heard any Palestinian gunfire. When medics arrived on the scene minutes later we learned that a child in the other group, 50 meters away, had been shot in the head. We don't know if he is dead or in critical condition. The jeeps continued to fire and entered the camp smashing market stalls and preventing us from reaching the scene of killing to take the number of the jeep responsible.

Residents called for assistance after their home was occupied by the Israeli army. The soldiers have prevented medical teams from returning to the area, declaring it a closed military zone. At two am there are several jeeps in the camp. We have been forced to take cover inside a house. We hear army dogs and announcements from nearby jeeps. The shooting continues and there have been several explosions. Nablus has suffered nightly incursions for the last week.


3. Update on Children Arrested at Peacefull Wall Demonstration in Beit Suri

q7th June 2005

On June 5th, Issa Kandil and Bassem Sheik are still in custody! They where kidnapped by hooded undercover police, who arrested them at gunpoint 1.5 kilometers from the separation wall, where a silent demonstration was taking place. The people of the village of Beit Suriq were demonstrating by sitting silently on the ground in front of the wall.

Issa, 15, and Bassem, 16, have never before been arrested.

They allegedly threw stones towards soliders that were protecting the work on the Wall. The evidence against them is the testimony of the undercover agents, who say they saw them throwing stones, and the testimony of Tlaat Radad, who was arrested with them and released the same day since he suffers from a mental disease. We appealed twice for the release of the boys in the military court of Judea and the military court of appeals for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The first judge ruled to hold Issa and released Bassem on bail of 20,000 NIS. On the mutual appeal, Issa was released and Bassem was held. At the last appeal Issa was held while the chief judge of the Court of Appeals wrote that he found enough evidence to show that the 15 year old boys posed a threat to the security of the territories, and that "although they are young and have never been arrested, their parents should watch over their children as long as the wall is being built" - 21/6/05, Court of Appeals, Lieutenant Colonel Netael Benishu, second to the chief justice of the court of appeals.

All witnesses, Israeli activists and Palestinian villagers, testify there was no stone throwing that day.

One woman saw the arrest from her window. 8 undercover agents dressed like Palestinians came from the other side of the village, near Biddu. Issa and Bassem both said they were approached by the undercover agents and asked if they wanted to throw stones at the soldiers. They answered that they did not, and that it was too far. When I went to see the place of their arrest and the point in the village where they were, it became obvious that they could not have thrown a stone near any of the security forces. However, since the kidnapping and their arrest, there has been a complete silence in the village – the demonstrations have been stopped for fear of future kidnappings.

The military prosecution offered a plea bargain – 5 months in jail for Bassem (because he "threw two rocks") and 7 months for Issa (because he "threw three rocks" according to the undercover agents). They are children who suffer every day in a military jail based on illegitimate evidence. This arrest and procedure is part of a policy to scare villages that are loosing their land to stop protesting, the kidnappings and provocation by undercover agents have happened several times. It is a ruthless form of action, and illegitimate use of the law.

This goes on because the public eye and the international ears are turned away. Issa and Bassem begin their trial on 13/7/05. They need your help to have their life back, so they can go to school and to their families. There is no reason for them to be in a military jail. Please protest against their unjust detention.


4. Update on Yonatan Pollack

Israeli activist Yonatan Pollack, member of Israeli Anarchists Against Walls was arrested in a non-violent demonstration against the Annexation Barrier in the town of Salfit in the West Bank on June 9th. Two activists who were arrested with him were released with light conditions, while Yonatan was kept overnight and offered condition of a three-month bar from the Occupied Territories. He refused to sign the conditions and was brought in front of a judge on June 11th. The judge did not reduce the conditions and Yonaton signed the conditions on advice of his lawyer.

Last Monday, July 4th, Yonatan's lawyer Gaby Laski appealed the conditions. The judge said that he 'couldn't be bothered' with the case and that Yonatan was lucky, as he (the judge) disagreed with the basic premise of the appeal.

In addition, however, the judge ruled that the period of ban from the Occupied Territories was too long and reduced it to one month. In practice, this means that Yonaton will be able to return to the territories in just a few days.

The Israeli authorities have recently been attempting to ban veteran activists from the Occupied Territories for lengthy periods of time.

Ezra, an Israeli activist with Taayush, who has been extremely active in the last few years in the South Hebron area, was arrested at a flying checkpoint on his way back to Jerusalem after a peaceful demonstration against the annexation barrier at the village of Imnazeil in the South Hebron Hills.

The police originally wanted to bar Ezra from entering the Occupied Territories for a period of three months for allegedly 'pushing a soldier'. This for a charge that is entirely unverifiable and, according to Ezra, also untrue. Ezra went to court on Saturday, July 2nd, accompanied by around twenty Israeli and international activists. A discussion never took place and Ezra agreed to a thirty day bar from the area 300m away from the Barrier in the South Hebron area


5. He simply had a mom and dad

By Yossi Sarid

By its very nature, an army is not designed to issue justice. As we know, an army marches on its stomach, and a stomach is capable of digesting injustice as well; it is not necessarily guided by justice. Every army, especially during a bloody conflict, has other urgent problems. Justice waits until things calm down, and meanwhile it is invited somewhere else, if at all. We should mention here the famous statement by Georges Clemenceau, "Military justice is to justice what military music is to music."

Last week, a military court convicted Israel Defense Forces Sergeant Taysir al-Heib of killing Tom Hurndall, an International Solidarity Movement activist. More than two years have passed since Hurndall was shot in the head in the Rafah region, became a "vegetable," was hospitalized in England and died a year later.

The first IDF investigation was like every investigation: "The soldiers acted in accordance with standing orders." According to Al- Heib's original testimony, Hurndall was armed with a pistol, and therefore he was fated to be shot by a sniper. This version was supported by that of other soldiers who were there. The entire affair, with the fraudulent findings of the groundless investigation, was supposed to be buried along with Hurndall. But this time the case was not closed, because Hurndall had a mother who did not accept the report, and a father as well. And his parents are not from here, they are from there, from England, and what a mother and father see from there is not always what once wants to and can see from here. The family did not rest and did not remain silent: They gave interviews to all the media organizations, they protested and demanded an additional investigation, they enlisted public opinion in England, they applied heavy pressure on British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And Her Majesty's government, albeit halfheartedly, explained to the government of His Majesty the IDF that this affair could not be buried.

And surprise, surprise, a truly diabolical twist, the new investigation came up with entirely different findings: Hurndall did not have a pistol, he was even wearing identifying reflective clothing, our soldier only wanted to deter him and the bullet that was supposed to miss happened to hit the mark.

How can one fail to think about other investigations, whose findings are full of holes and don't have a leg to stand on, but nor do they have a foreign government to tear them to bits, to demand a genuine investigation and to get it, too?

From the start of the intifada in October 2000 through this month, Israeli security forces have killed at least 1,722 Palestinians in the territories who were not involved in the fighting, including 563 minors. During that same period, only 108 investigations were opened by Metzach, the Military Police Detective Unit, and only 19 ended in indictments; only in two cases were soldiers convicted of causing death. These are the statistics of B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which have usually been proven correct. It is easy to guess how this picture would have looked had England and other countries been in the picture the entire time. The U.S. administration, for example, is invited to test its strength in the case of Rachel Corrie, another ISM activist, who was crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer in Rafah.

The administration in Washington will probably not hasten to accept the invitation; it will have difficulties finding time to avenge Corrie's blood, because it has its own serious problems: It is too busy whitewashing its scandals in Iraq, Guantanamo and Afghanistan.

The bitter story of Hurndall, with its hasty vicissitudes, explains only too well the constant demand to take investigations away from the army, which like any other organization should not and cannot investigate itself. The IDF should carry out the operational investigations in order to learn the necessary lessons, but the investigations into incidents of killing and wounding should be placed in the hands of professional and independent groups.

It is hard to suppress and overcome another forbidden thought: Was it easier to open a closed file, to reinvestigate everything, to indict and convict in the Hurndall affair, because the soldier who fired is a Bedouin?


6. When You Remember – A poem By Bob Green

Marhaba Ya Rifka! Hello! Marhaba Yoram, Malka, Avishai,
Marhaba K'tsia, Marion, Yehoshua, Yaël.
Keef hal-ak? How are you?
Beloved friends of my father and mother for 50 years –
When will I visit you in Tel Aviv? In Zichron Ya'aqov?
When will I walk in your vineyards? Meet your grandchildren?
Meet the son-in-law in the blue jeans business?
When you remember Deir Yassin
And why do I address you in halting Arabic?
Surely I can say "Shalom, Ma sh'lom cha?" in Hebrew?
This would show the respect I long to feel
We could embrace at the airport
Dine again under arbors laden with next year's wine
We would again pass silently among memories
Enshrined at Yad Vashem
When you remember Deir Yassin
We can eat oranges from trees my mother planted
as you watched in 1953.
When you remember Deir Yassin.
We can talk about your friends and family
About David Shoham's precious Absalom
Slain in a war against neighboring states
About Yehoshua's first wife Ruthie,
Dead in an airport attack in the `60's
We can talk about your friend David Tithare
Who sat me on his lap when I was six
And bragged of slitting Palestinian throats
In Jerusalem, when he was chief of police
In 1948.
All this we can do
When you remember Deir Yassin.


7. Demonstration in Bil'in

On the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that declared Israel's Annexation Wall in the West Bank illegal, the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bil'in has organized a nonviolent demonstration on Friday the 8th of July at 11:00 AM in Bil'in.

Protestors will carry a large representation of the scales of Justice held by "Uncle Sam" with the world on one side and Israel outweighing it on the other. The demonstration will also hold Friday prayers in the path of the Wall which will isolate more than 60% of the lands of Bil'in, if completed.

Friday's demonstration will be attended by Palestinian Legislative Council representatives and ministers, Israeli Knesset members, representatives from the Palestinian National and Islamic parties, along with international and Israeli supporters.

Mohammed al Khatib, community leader and member of the Popular Committee in Bil'in explains, "One year ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world's highest legal body, ruled that Israel's construction of a wall on Palestinian land violated international law and must be stopped. Today, Palestinians in villages like ours are struggling to implement this decision and stop construction using nonviolence, but the world has done little to support us."

After Israeli courts refused appeals to prevent Wall construction, the people of Bil'in, along with Israelis and people from around the world, began peacefully protesting the confiscation of their land and have held more than 50 peaceful demonstrations since February 2005. The Israeli military regularly attacks the peaceful protests with teargas, clubs and rubber-coated steel bullets.



Place: Mas'ha Village, Salfit District, West Bank

Date: Friday, July 8, 2005

Time: 12:00 noon

Residents of the Salfit Region will march from the Mosque to the Separation Wall in Mas'ha. The residents demand that the United Nations enforce the International Court's decision to halt construction on the Wall. The demonstration is organized by the Popular Committees Against the Wall and will be joined by International Women's Peace Service and Israeli peace activists.

On July 9, 2004, the International High Court of Justice declared the Separation Wall illegal and called on Israel to dismantle the Wall. This decision was affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly on July 20, 2004; yet the UN has done nothing to halt construction.

One year has passed and the construction on the wall continues. The Wall reaches more than 20 km deep into the Salfit region, confiscating hundreds of dunums of Palestinian land and destroying thousands of olive trees.

On the one year anniversary of the decision by the International Court, the Popular Committees Against the Wall call on the United Nations to enforce the Court's decision to halt construction on the Wall immediately.


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